Incredible Close-Up Image Of Jupiter’s Swirling Clouds Looks Too Pretty To Be Real

A photo of Jupiter that has been claimed to be the “closest ever taken” of Jupiter is doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter

It’s not clear where the claim that it is the closest ever taken comes from. The image of the planet was taken by Junocam during perijove 26, according to the SETI Institute. Perijove means the point in orbit where a spacecraft is closest to Jupiter, and the mission can reach a few thousand kilometers from cloud tops. The Juno spacecraft takes many photos during flybys, with another close approach happening on February 3, 2024, while Cassini also took photos of the planet while on its way to Saturn.

               

The closest flyby so far took place on August 27, 2016, when Juno flew 4,200 kilometers (2,600 miles) above the planet’s swirling clouds of gas at the gas giant’s North pole. Nevertheless, the photo is a reminder of the ridiculous beauty of Jupiter that Juno has been able to capture since it began imaging the planet in 2016.

Other shots of the planet that look too good to be real include a short video made by Kevin M. Gill from Cassini images, taken before that probe went on to photograph and then crash into Saturn. The shot shows Io and Europa orbiting Jupiter.

In the clip, Io (which is closer to Jupiter) appears to be orbiting slower than Europa (which is further away). However, there’s a simple explanation for this.

“The motion isn’t wholly accurate as I made it to look prettier than it was correct,” Gill explained on X (Twitter). “It’s meant to portray the motion visible from a spacecraft that’s moving at a velocity faster than the moons are orbiting. So, from a stationary perspective, Io would move faster than Europa.”

All the photos are real, even if they look too darn good to be so.

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